With the fires raging in Colorado, this is a topic on a lot of minds this week. As someone who used to have a major phobia of fire, wildfires are a terrifying thing to me, and my prayers go out to all those affected, both residents and the brave men and women fighting the fires.
But that's not exactly where I'm going today. ;-) It so happens that in my daily reading, today I got to I Corinthians 3.
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
I've always been so struck by this. It's not talking about salvation--we're saved, Paul makes that clear in verse 15. But, as members of God's family, we're given His foundation and then have to build our lives upon it. We're given our choice of things to build with. Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw. And then the Lord's holy fire will test it.
Fire is the theme in one of my two works-in-progress, so I've been giving it a lot of thought. It's one of the four ancient elements, a force that can give life or destroy it. Out in Colorado, it's wreaking havoc . . . and bringing a lot of people to their knees before God.
Fire refines. It burns away the garbage, burns away the chaff, and leaves purity in its wake. Usually this is in a contained situation, like in refining silver or gold. I would never-ever try to apply it to a wildfire! Don't mistake me there. But even in the wake of that tragedy, there are those seeds, long dormant, brought to life and let to grow only because they were exposed to the high heat of the flame. Trees that gain life through destruction.
When I was a kid, terrified by fire, my neighbor's fire barrel turned over once, and half his yard burned before he got it under control. This brought my fears back to the surface real quick--but then I noticed that, in spite of the drought, that grass that had burned came back vibrant and green, while the rest of the lawn was an ugly brown.
Somehow or another, the fire brought life.
My prayer is that I can build my life's work with purity. With metaphorical gold and silver, with gems and precious stones. I pray that when the fire comes down upon me, it leaves me and mine gleaming rather than consumed. I pray no loss is suffered.
Lord, direct our hands as we're building, help us build for You. Help us make the right decisions that will withstand that holy fire. And give us the peace to know that even when something seems to be burned up and left destroyed, it's only so that You can send us something new, something better to take its place. Go before us, Father, and make clear the path.